Did you know I know everything? Yep, it's true. I've been telling my mother that since I was a kid, my husband too but he doesn't believe me. The other day I asked my six year old a question and when he answered I said, 'how do you know?' He replied, 'because I know everything.' Yep, that's great, now there are two of us in this world who know everything. I supposed that means I have competition.
Anyway, because I do know everything, I get questions via e-mail, facebook, tweets, in the grocery store, at the gas station or most recently in the bathroom. Yep, that was awkward. I thought I'd take some time today to answer a few of those in case anyone else had the same questions...
1. How did you get started doing this? By 'this' I'm assuming that's couponing. You can read my whole story here but in a nutshell, I started due to my son's food allergies. I grew up in a frugal home though and did know the basics from my dad who taught me well. In reference to doing this as a business, that began because my best friend told me I should teach a class. She was teaching jewelry making at the time and thought it would be fun. Who knew.
2. Do you really use coupons for every single thing you buy? No. There's no way to do that but I do use coupons for about 80% of what I buy. The rest is typically on sale or sometimes I buy things that I just need like everyone else. I've been couponing for awhile and I can easily recognize good prices and deals and also know when something is cheaper at another store so that helps me a lot. I save a ton of money so it makes it easier to splurge on those items you just want or other items you need but don't have a coupon for at that time.
3. How do I become an extreme couponer? Despite what the TV may tell you, extreme couponing is far from reality couponing. It's likely you do not have 40 hours a week to devote to coupon clipping, it is also likely that you will want to purchase more than just free mustard, Gatorade and cereal. However, by using coupons the right way, you can certainly cut your grocery bill by 80% or more buying the items you really want. Check out our Couponing 101 post to help you get started shopping strategically. Be sure to join our forums too, where thousands of users have joined and share their coupons and stores.
4. Why are you called Queen? Uh, because I am the Queen. Duh. Just kidding, actually, I began about 4 years ago (maybe more) as Tulsa's Coupon Queen. A friend of mine suggested it and it stuck. Then, we jazzed it up a bit and became 918 Coupon Queen (the Tulsa area code) but as our site expanded beyond being only coupons and also outside of the Tulsa area, we decided Money Saving Queen would be a better fit. The Queen is just fun, it took awhile to get used to but now I like it a lot. I'm thinking I should get a Queen tattoo or at least a diamond crown. Just kidding, I'm not going to get a tattoo...
5. What are your favorite stores? I actually am a HUGE Target fan as well as CVS and Walgreens. I love combining coupons at Target plus the selection is good and the store is nice. I do shop at other stores as well but typically, I'm drawn back to Target and of course the drugstores for all those freebies.
6. How much time do you spend couponing...really? Well, here's the thing, this week I'm teaching a workshop in OKC along with my normal job of news and posting on this site so I'll hit about 60 hours of work this week. That means, I have to fit couponing into a schedule that works for me and my family or it just won't work at all. My dad actually cuts all of my coupons (way cool) and all I have to do is use our matchups to figure out which store is best this week. I can do that pretty quickly (keep in mind, I've been doing it for awhile) so sometimes I'll spend about an hour getting ready before I hit the store. My average though is about 45 minutes.
It is somewhat different for me because I see every single matchup, every single week and I kinda have a method down. There are times when I just grab my coupons and walk straight into the store and do it right there. But, the best way is to prepare. If you're just starting, it will take some time but in the beginning, I never spent more than 3 hours a week getting ready. I save hundreds of dollars each month so the time is well worth it.
7. How do you keep from giving up? I grew up in a frugal family, this has always been a way of life for me so it's unlikely that I will ever just give up. Being frugal is a mindset and I'm not talking about being cheap, I'm talking about being a good steward of your finances and not spending unwisely. Most people are looking for the easy button and there just isn't one. If you want to improve your marriage, it will take work. If you want to lose weight, it will take work. If you want to transform your finances, it will take work. It's that simple.
8. What about your family, are they on board with this? Yes, by now they kinda have to be. As I said before, my dad helps me cut my coupons, my mom watches my kids while I'm teaching and my husband will go grocery shopping (coupons and all) when I can't. My kids also know about couponing, my older son helps me quite a bit with it and is learning how to shop smart. My kids will grow up like I did, finding the best deals for the items they want. When I wanted something, my mom would help me try to figure out how to get it at the best price. That's what I remember and I have kept that with me all of my life.
For those of you who are trying to get your spouses or other family members on board, they'll come around when they see your savings. But if they don't, that's ok just keep doing what you're doing.
9. How do you give back with your savings? I do practice what I preach. We tithe weekly to our church but on top of that, I donate food, school supplies, money and many other items that I get to those in need. We do a major clean out of our stockpile every few months and start the whole process over again.
Pray before you start your day and ask God to bring those with needs that you can meet into your path. He will. That is my favorite way to give back, if you find people are telling you their needs everyday then maybe start praying about how you can meet them. We always say to ourselves, 'they will help so and so' or 'they will take care of that.' You are the 'they.' Start giving.
10. What blogs do you follow each day? I read a ton of coupon blogs but outside of that, I love to read The Pioneer Woman, Mommy Hates Cooking (my sister), Stuff Christians Like (my favorite) and Tip Junkie.
Disclaimer: I realize I do not actually know everything, which is rather unfortunate and will take some time for me to get over. As it tuns out, I am simply a wife and a mother trying to provide for my family and shop smart. My prayer is that this website, the book, workshops and everything else will help you shop smart too. :-)